30 Sep 2009

Stalin's Reincarnation

[Buddhists believe that ordinary people are reincarnated until they reach enlightenment; that means that someone evil will come back until they renounce their evil...]

Joseph Stalin is famous not just for killing most of his foes (Assassinating Trotsky; show trials) and the starvation of 20-30 million "kulaks," but also for the Katyn massacre of about 22,000 Polish officers.

What's interesting about those 22,000 vs. the 20,000,000 that died in other ways? Stalin blamed the massacre on the Nazis rather than take the blame himself.*

...and that's what justifies the title to this post: Vladimir Putin (ex-President, current Prime Minister, and President-elect-in-waiting) is not just an admirer of Stalin -- he's also someone who I think is capable of using Stalin's methods: killing to advance his own cause while blaming others for those deaths.

Which deaths? The people who died in their beds when "Chechen terrorists" blew up four apartment buildings.

These attacks occurred in 1999, and they were directly relevant to the second Russian invasion of Chechnya and the subsequent rise of Mr Putin from nowhere to control over a state whose oil and gas wealth is exceeded only by its corruption and concentration of power in the hands of its politicians.

To make a long story short, Putin -- head of the KGB before he became president -- had the resources, incentives and temperament** to coordinate the attacks that would give him the keys to the kingdom. And anyone who has watched Russia since that surreal day when Yeltsin "revealed" Putin as the next president will see that Putin has wasted no time gathering power unto himself.

But wait -- even more interesting than all this backstory is the way that the "Putin blew them up" story has been treated in the media. I read the story in a US-edition of GQ. When I went to GQ's site to find a link to that article to post here, I found links to hot babes, casual ties, and sports analysis, but no link to the story.

What happened? Conde-Nast has suppressed the story on the internet and all its international editions, with some intention of "protecting" Russia and Putin from the nasty possibility that some people may question their legitimacy and morals.

This move was pretty stupid, since it called more attention to the story. Gawker published a WTF post, and others (here and here) have reposted the article in full.

Bottom Line: It's my belief that politics and economics are fused in the USSR Russia, and those in charge (Putin and the real oligarchs) will use whatever power they can to maintain control over that country's economic assets (oil and gas) and the "citizens" whom they serve enslave.
* Some (ex-Soviet) Russians still fail to acknowledge responsibility for this massacre.

** Unlike George Bush (who thought he saw Putin's soul in his eyes), I see real-politic in Putin's eyes.


  1. David: And you do not think that politics and economics are fused in the USA?

  2. On a forum about temperaments, www.personalityzone.com, contributors have typed Putin and Stalin as slightly different temperments, Stalin as a Supervisor Guardian and Putin as an Inspector Guardian. This site is dedicated to Kiersey Temperament Theory. These determinations are not absolutly certain, but keen observers of temperament have given some thought to these observations.

    Bottom Line: A persons temperment reveals a lot about how they can be expected to act.

  3. @FC -- they are not nearly as fused as they are in Russia (or Zimbabwe or Nigeria or...). I am not questioning the human proclivity to dominate others in cruel ways; I am questioning the reputation of a man who is more like a murderer than a statesman.

  4. Great photo! David, are you trying to get a job at the economist? :) I think your opinions would fit right in with their vision of the world (and particularly Russia).

    But, wait, actually where in http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14363315 does is say that Putin is an admirer of Stalin?

    Your argument is based on the assumption that Putin ordered the 1999 terrorist attacks. While not impossible (we will never know for sure), this is as far fetched as the theory that 9/11 was an inside job (btw, do you see a lot about that in the US Media?). Also, if we assume that Putin ordered these attacks, then how do we explain the fact that there were major terrorist attacks before (during Yeltsin's wolderful rule) and after Putin came to power? How do we also explain that, after years of de-facto independence, Chechen leaders decided not to restore peace, but to build up militarily and attack the neighboring province of Dagestan?

    Another question: do you think that Stalin, would have ever handed over power (even if it was just nominal)?

    I'm worried about some of the trends in modern Russia (the glorification of Stalin is disgusting), but I also visit Russia on a regular basis... things are not really as bad as you present. While certainly not as perfect as the western world, the current Russian society is far from that of USSR after 10 years of Stalin's rule.


  5. @Valera -- I'd love to work for the economist, but I think my writing can improve :)

    1) Perhaps failing to criticize (or allow criticism?) is the same as admiration? Try this or this.

    2) I think that *those* attacks are the suspicious ones. I am not saying that Putin did Beslan or the Moscow theatre (those merely revealed the incompetence of the police...)

    3) I *have* said that Bush "knew" about 9/11.

    4) Are you saying that Putin's nominal resignation is a move in the right direction? Perhaps, but you know what a "Potemkin Village" strategy of political change would look like.

    5) I totally agree that Russia is better off than 10 years ago. I wonder if it could be better off? After all, Putin was lucky with oil...

    I still think that Russia is moving towards the Nigerian model of an oil state, not a Norwegian model...

  6. Glad to see how you're educating yourself on how politics plays such a part in shaping the future, with or without pure economics.
    Eventually you might want to change the name of your blog to Politicoaquanomics.

  7. 400,000 chechens out of 1 million, civilians as well, killed as a result of chechen war...

  8. Bold -- I hope you have fresh batteries in your polonium detector

  9. @Anon -- I doubt I merit such VIP treatment; perhaps 2 bullets?

  10. Scott Anderson - the investigative reporter that wrote the story on FSB's/Putin's involvement in the 1999 Russian bombings for GQ magazine - stated that he didn't think Putin really had to know that they would be carried out by his "security-intelligence" cohorts, just that he was the right guy to push into the presidency.

    In effect, they thought he had the right "temperate."

    Listen to WNYC's Leonard Lopate interview:



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